Study Guide

The Joys of Motherhood Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The Mother

  • Nnu Ego backs out of her room and runs away from the master's house. She runs as if somebody is chasing her.
  • It is 1934 in Lagos, which was then a British colony. Nnu Ego's husband works as a servant for one of the British colonial officers.
  • Nnu Ego runs past the market. Her breasts are filling with milk for her four-week-old son, her baby. That's why Nnu Ego is running. She plans to kill herself rather than face everybody after what's happened.
  • She runs into a blind Hausa beggar who curses her as she keeps running.
  • Though she is tired and in pain, she keeps going. She is headed to the Carter Bridge, where she can jump, where she can confront her chi – her personal god – who has been tormenting her.
  • (According to Ibo tradition, each person has a chi or personal god who can influence their life positively or negatively. Good or bad things that happen to a person are often attributed to that person's chi.)
  • Nnu Ego had been told that her chi was a slave woman who had been forced to die with her mistress when the woman's mistress had been buried. The slave woman died too young, and now she is making sure that Nnu Ego won't have a fulfilling life either.
  • Like others who are about to die, Nnu Ego begins to recount her life, and evaluates what led her to this minute.

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